But there are large differences between professional oral devices and over-the-counter(OTC) or internet-based/ mail order anti-snoring mouth devices.
Several years ago I interviewed Dr. Gail Demko, one of the most knowledgeable and experienced dentists in the world in the field of oral appliance therapy. The points discussed still haven’t changed amongst dental and medical sleep professionals.
Dr. Demko’s credentials include past president of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and an expert adviser to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in the field of oral appliance therapy. Dr. Demko also remains passionate in this field by sharing highlights of scientific research regarding oral devices with her peers.
During the interview, inadequacies, and problems of using “over the counter” or self-molded snoring mouth devices were discussed. These include:
- They can cause side effects similar to professional but without the guidance and monitoring of an experienced oral appliance dentist.
- They may cause joint/dental pain.
- They may cause tooth/jaw alignment changes.
- They may cause loss of teeth.
- They may cause a change of speech( lisping) requiring orthodontic correction (braces).
- They are often ill-fitting and have poor retention, often lasting just a few days.
- They may dissuade patients from professional oral appliance therapy which often provides drastically different results.
- Although these internet devices are FDA approved, that does not mean they are recommended nor work. FDA approved supports the idea that the materials the devices are made of are safe to use but are not based on effectiveness.
- Until earlier this year these devices technically were available through prescription only even when it appeared to not be needed.
- Devices purchased through mail order media sites can put people at risk by ‘hiding’ apnea while reducing snoring levels. Dangerous oxygen dips during sleep may still be occurring.There may also be other medical conditions that are now being masked.
Should you have one of these devices and refuse to part with it, it may be wise to consider steps to confirm its effectiveness on oxygen dips should they be occurring or to prove that it’s not masking other sleep / medical disorders.
If you are interested in treating your snoring, it is best to have medical screening/testing to rule out obstructive sleep apnea, a medical sleep disorder that can cause decreased quality of life and serious medical problems. Testing can also help rule out other medical sources for snoring.
If you are a good candidate for treatment with an oral device to treat snoring or obstructive sleep apnea, there are many benefits in finding a trained oral appliance dentist in place of turning to a self-fitted device. He or she is well versed with working with your physician to help navigate your path to quiet sleep.
Oral appliance therapy involves fabrication of a custom oral device constructed from impressions of teeth. These devices typically:
- Are very heavily researched and have supporting evidence of their effectiveness.
- Fit snugly on the teeth and don’t fall out easily.
- Are easy for the patients to adjust.
- Are much more comfortable and don’t cut into the gums
- Are not put in the mouth of a patient that is not a good candidate.
- The side effects are being prevented or managed by a trained professional.
- They are easy to clean
- They often last years
- They often treat grinding (bruxing) of teeth at the same time as snoring and apnea.
To start your safe and effective path to quiet sleep, see the Find-A-Trained -Dentist link on the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine website. If you are yet to have your snoring evaluated, this article may help you get started in finding the proper medical evaluation: What Kind of Physician Should I Seek to Find Out if I Have Apnea?